DNF At The 2016 Coastal 50K

I was debating between the Coastal 50K and the Mt. Diablo Vertical Challenge for the month of September and ended up with this, because Greg Maudsley, a colleague of mine was running it as his 2nd 50K (ever). It was the perfect storm of very low weekly miles (life/work has been a bit too crazy lately), trying out a brand new pair of shoes on race day and what felt like a 1,000°F in the Marin Headlands that did me in by mile 16. Here’s my partial Strava Activity:

Coastal 50K

I dirt-bagged in my mini-van at the Rodeo Beach parking lot the night before. It was quiet and peaceful, but I kept waking up often to the sound of the fog-horn. The new moon was peeking through the fog when I woke up around 5:15am. I sat there meditatively for a while with the van door open, watching the waves crash. The fog was slowly receding into the ocean and by 6:00am the starry sky was out. An omen of the warm day ahead.

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As we approach rainy season (hopefully!) here in California, I’ve been struggling for the past few years finding a pair of minimalist shoes that have good lugs, stay low to the ground and don’t kill my feet. The Luna Sandals and my $30 PR shoes work like a charm the rest of the year. So I bought the Vivobarefoot Primus and tried them when my wife and I were at Zion and Bryce not too long ago. Never ran with them, but was super happy hiking with them.

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Headed up the Dipsea Trail at a reasonable pace, though at one point I was pretty sure I was DFL, ‘cos everyone kept passing me and all I heard was trickling of water behind me. As I approached the summit, I could feel the warmth, even in the shade. The sweet downhill along Coastal Trail and Heather Cut-Off was much needed and made up good time here passing a bunch of folks along the way.

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I don’t ever remember going up Coastal Trail from the Muir Beach aid station. It’s always been running downhill the other way, but dang that’s one steep hill! This section also also the longest between aid stations and I simply forgot to fill up my 2nd soft flask. Well, it sucked big time. When I got to Miwok intersection, I was out of water and starting to overheat. The new shoes were pinching on the side of my toes and I had to suck it up on the long downhill towards Tennessee Valley. By the time I pulled in, I was pretty badly dehydrated and my feet were on fire. I simply couldn’t see myself taking on three more 800ft, fully-exposed climbs. It was only getting warmer.

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img_2358Tried to sit out for a while and kept dunking ice water on my head to cool off, but mentally I was done. Hung out with another runner (visiting from Ireland) that also decided to drop out. Greg pulled in to the aid station 10-15 minutes after me, but he still looked fresh. He would brave on to an amazing 7:39 finish! Cecille Powell, who was running the marathon distance dropped out here also. Her family was super kind to give us a ride to the finish line. To redeem myself I’ve registered for both the Eldrith Gosney 36K next month and the Mt. Tam Trail Run 50K in November. Hopefully I’ll suck less in these runs. Looking at the results, there were 7/33 DNFs in the Marathon and 13/73 in the 50K distance. Tough day in the Marin Headlands.


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  • Interesting story. I don’t believe you can DNF. You are so good runner! Next time

    • Thanks Alex Voytov for the vote of confidence. Next time it is.

    • Ditto what Alex said, but at least it was a beautiful day out there!

  • Good effort! Sounds like a tough day. I signed up for Mt Tam too. See you there!

    • Saw that! And Anil Gorti, Saurabh Bhasin, Mark Hauber! Going to be a big party. I’ll bring beer for the finish 🙂

    • Kowsik look forward to it! Hopefully I can chase you all the way to the finish.

    • Saurabh Bhasin That wouldn’t be too hard, the way I’ve been running. But you know what? I’m going to give you a run for your money! 🙂 Also, LMK when you go up on 4 peaks. Would love to join.

    • Kowsik Guruswamy will do. Likely this weekend 🙂

    • Kowsik Guruswamy Looking forward to it!! Mt. D Vertical Challenge was great! You would have loved it. Next year!

    • Kowsik Guruswamy That’s a rough race. Hope to finally catch up on sharing some miles at Mt Tam 50K 🙂

  • Sorry you had to drop but it sounds like a smart decision!

  • Sounds like a tough day indeed! Recover well 🙂

  • Good read. Better to drop and run another day than to push on and potentially need a rescue out there… besides, a DNF beats a DNS any day.

  • Great race recap, you’ll do amazing on your next race (:

  • ouch. Sounds like you made the right call. @anilyst & @mtn_runr will see you at Tam in Nov ??

  • Ah, that’s unfortunate. Chin up. On to the next one ??

  • Hey at least you had the sense to know when to cut yourself some slack. Well done for having the courage and guts to admit it. When you finally do complete this one it will be all the sweeter for it. xx

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  • Greg Maudsley

    It was great running with you Kowsik. I realize it was the first time I had the pleasure to watch you descend trails… not sure if your feet ever actually touch the ground… it’s more like you’re floating.. true mastery of the down-hill. I really appreciated your encouragement and support which drove me through a tough day.

    • @gregmaudsley:disqus you rocked out there! With two 50K’s under your belt now, time to sign up for a 50 miler? 🙂 Thanks for nudging me to sign up for this.